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Martin Grove’s Hollywood Report 04-30-12


 
“The Avengers” – In Theaters May 4th.

“The Avengers” – In Theaters May 4th.

Samuel L. Jackson as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury

Samuel L. Jackson as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury

Behind the scenes look at “The Avengers”

Behind the scenes look at “The Avengers”

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow

“Avengers” applause: Applause usually follows a movie, but with “The Avengers” it’s already being heard loud and clear through the film’s astounding tracking.

Although the Disney and Marvel Enterprises’ 3D sci-fi action adventure doesn’t hit U.S. theatres until May 4, in the tracking it’s the first-choice film for more than a third of those surveyed. And when you look at moviegoer demographics, “Avengers” is tracking enviably in the mid-40 percents with men of all ages. In other words, not just fanboys, but their dads, as well, can’t wait to see this one!

Directed by Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), “Avengers’” ensemble cast features some of Marvel’s highest profile comic book heroes — like Robert Downey, Jr. (“Ironman”); Chris Evans (“Captain America”), Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) and Mark Ruffalo (“The Hulk”) plus Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye).

In “Avengers,” Samuel L. Jackson plays Nick Fury, head of the international peacekeeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D., who assembles the superhero team of a lifetime to deal with a surprise threat to Earth from the villainous Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

With about two weeks still left before it opens, “Avengers” is already tracking through the roof. It’s doing best with men both younger and older than 25, a double-demo that typically translates into a blockbuster launch.

Directed by Joss Whedon (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), “Avengers’” cast includes some of Marvel’s biggest comic book movie stars — like Robert Downey, Jr. (“Iron Man”); Chris Evans (“Captain America”), Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”) and Mark Ruffalo (“The Hulk”) plus Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye).

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury heads the international peacekeeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D. and assembles the Super Hero team of a lifetime to combat a surprise threat to Earth from the villainous Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

“Avengers” was the Tribeca Film Festival’s closing night selection Saturday with Whedon, Downey, Ruffalo, Hemsworth, Hiddleston and others on hand to promote the picture. Here’s a look at Downey on the red carpet:


The film’s phenomenal tracking makes it a safe bet that this summer’s going to start with a boxoffice bang. Looking back to this time last year, Paramount and Marvel Entertainment’s action adventure fantasy “Thor” opened May 6, to tracking of about one-third the strength “Avengers” is showing. “Thor” arrived to a respectable $65.7 million at 3,963 theatres and went on to gross $181 million domestically plus $268.3 million more internationally. “Avengers,” which is going into 4,000-plus theatres, should make “Thor” look like a superhero weakling.

Last summer’s best tracking comparison is to Warner Bros.’ spectacular launch of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” which kicked off July 15 to $169.2 million at 4,375 theatres. It wound up grossing $381 million domestically and another $947.1 million internationally. Five days prior to opening, “Harry” was tracking roughly the way “Avengers” is eight days pre-arrival.

There are, however, some key differences between the two titles. “Harry” was the final episode in a solidly entrenched franchise while “Avengers” is the first in a franchise-to-be. Of course, “Avengers” does feature a team of superheroes who are already quite well known to moviegoers thanks to earlier films in which they starred individually — like “Iron Man,” “Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Thor” and “The Hulk.”

In addition, mid-July’s a much stronger moviegoing time than early May because kids are out of school and many adults are vacationing then. In early May, of course, schools are still in session and people are still looking ahead to their vacations. Friday afternoons in May aren’t as busy because kids are in school and adults are at work. Sunday evenings are quieter because people have to get up early the next morning to go to school or work.

Nonetheless, with “Avengers” tracking with “Harry”-like intensity, there’s good reason to think we’re in store for a triple digit kick-start to the summer.

Another indication of “Avengers’” boxoffice power is its outstanding performance in international theatres. Last weekend saw it open in 39 territories to a staggering $178.4 million. A measure of its strength is that it opened Number One in every one of its markets and set records as the biggest opening weekend ever in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Central America, Bolivia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, New Zealand and The Philippines.

Those 39 markets, by the way, represent only 70 percent of the overall international marketplace. Not included in this first wave of openings were huge moviegoing markets like China, Russia and Japan. “Avengers” opens next week in Russia and in China, which is now the largest international territory for movies. In August it opens in Japan.

Bottom line: “Avengers” looms as a big action movie — both on screen and at the boxoffice.